January 28, 2008

What is wrong with the NHL. Jan ‘08 edition

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

With the NHL’s all-star weekend passing by, I had to write a few notes that came up explaining why hockey is dying in North America, more specifically, the states:

The slam dunk competition in hockey form. Are you serious? How dumb is it that they’re holding a competition where scoring doesn’t matter, people — like Dominique Wilkins — who have little-to-no knowledge about hockey, are judging and goaltenders treat the event with enough seriousness that they’re rushing players and poke-checking them before they can try their moves? Yet another idiotic idea by the NHL.

How sad is it that the NHL held their all-star game in Atlanta and the majority of hotel rooms booked in the city were not for hockey fans, media or players, but for a poultry convention in town the same weekend. That’s pretty much all you have to say about why the NHL is slowly fading into obscurity, especially in the southern states. Get the Thrashers out of Atlanta already.

Next season, for the second straight year, the NHL will open their season with games in Europe. This time around, Stockholm and Prague will host a pair of games each. The only problem is that the league shouldn’t be worrying about marketing the brand overseas like this, they should be working on getting more people in the United States on their bandwagon. Canada’s always going to have a population of hockey nuts but with the majority of the teams located state-side where popularity is dwindling, it’s no wonder why the league is in rough shape. North America should be the NHL’s target audience, not Europe.

Finally, while it is understandable that in pretty much any sport’s all-star game, defence isn’t the aspect to be showcased, it should still be brought up that these guys should at least be trying on the back end. Now, I know that hitting is “outlawed” in the all-star game to prevent injuries and I’m not saying that the teams should deploy a Devils-style trap but come on guys, you’re the best players in the league and you can’t show a tiny bit of hustle to get back? But this isn’t so much of the NHL’s problem as it is all sports’ all-star games, with the exception of baseball that is.

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